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3 Things to Consider When Buying a Yoga Mat
A yoga mat is the one thing you cannot do without, whether you are a yoga novice or a master. Keep these tips in mind the next time you shop for a mat.
The cheapest mats are often the thinnest. If you do not need a lot of padding, one of these mats may be fine. If you appreciate a little more cushioning, spring for a thicker, more expensive mat. A thick mat is best if you are new to yoga and are still building muscle and joint strength. Thicker mats also help you keep your balance.
The majority of yoga mats are made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane. These mats are very durable and do not get slippery when you start to sweat, but they may have a chemical odor. If you prefer a mat made with natural materials, consider buying a jute, hemp, cotton, or rubber one instead. Although natural mats are environmentally friendly and do not have strong odors, they do tend to wear out faster than PVC or polyurethane mats.
Compare textures before you purchase a mat. Texture is a matter of personal preference. Some people like perfectly smooth mats, while others prefer raised patterns for better grip.
Are you having a little trouble performing the more complicated yoga poses? Yoga accessories can help you master those difficult moves with confidence. Our list of common accessories explains how yoga aids can help you improve your form.
Yoga blocks provide stability when you are learning a new pose and offer the support you need to perform complicated moves. Blocks also help improve the alignment of your body and deepen your stretches. The yoga accessories are available in a variety of materials, including foam, cork, and bamboo. Yoga blocks can be used either flat on the floor or upright on the shortest ends.
Standard yoga blocks are 4 by 6 by 9 inches long. If you have small hands, you may find that the 3 by 6 by 9-inch size is more comfortable. Foam blocks are the lightest blocks and also provide the most cushioning, but they do not offer as much support as blocks made with denser materials. You may want to buy several types of blocks and alternate them depending on the poses you plan to perform.
It's hard to believe that a simple cotton strap could make such a difference in your performance, but inexpensive yoga straps really do offer amazing benefits. The straps enhance your flexibility and allow you to complete poses that would be impossible without a little help. Thanks to yoga straps, you can extend your reach beyond your normal limits and hold poses for longer than normal. Yoga straps are available in 6-, 8- and 10-foot lengths and come in a variety of colors.
Yoga bolsters, also called yoga pillows, are used to support your body and increase your comfort while you practice your favorite poses. Although anyone can use them at any time, they are often recommended if you are pregnant or have a physical disability. Bolsters range in size from 22 by 7 inches to 28 by 10 inches. Although you can use a standard pillow when you perform poses, bolsters are firmer than pillows and offer more support.
Although eye masks are not required, they can help you achieve total relaxation when you perform the corpse pose. Masks not only prevent light from reaching your eyes, but also offer acupressure benefits for your forehead and eyes. Some masks contain calming substances, such as lavender and flaxseed, but they are also available unscented.
Yoga towels fit over your mat and are designed to improve your grip and absorb sweat. Unlike bath towels, non-slip yoga towels are manufactured to fit your yoga mat perfectly. They are a must no matter what type of yoga you practice, but are particularly helpful during hot yoga sessions. The towels are available in a variety of colors, allowing you to match or complement the color of your yoga mat.
Are you ready to take a yoga class? Call us today and we will help you find the perfect class for your needs.
Yoga Journal: Prop Up Your Practice, 8/28/07
U.S. News and World Report: Save Money on Yoga by Making Your Own Props, 9/10/13
Boston Magazine: How to Use Four Common Yoga Props, 2/21/14
Mindbodygreen: 4 Things to Look For When Buying a Yoga Mat, 1/9/12
Consumer Reports: Want an Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat? Here’s What You Need to Know, 9/10/08